LITR 5731 Seminar in American
conclude Love Medicine
The Enlightenment: British Literature
Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield;
The latent tracts, the giddy heights explore
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
Eye Nature’s walks, shoot Folly as it flies;
And catch the manners living as they rise;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can;
But vindicate the ways of God to Man.
--Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, 1733-34
Pope’s quote amply captures the assumptions of English literature from the restoration of the British monarchy in 1660 until the start of the revolutionary period in 1789: that it should act as social and intellectual criticism, for the betterment of mankind generally; that authors can through conversation, sometimes friendly, often savagely satirical, both spoken and published, arrive at a set of social and artistic standards of conduct that will vindicate the existence of some divine order; and that it is a vitally important weapon in the political and social arena. And it is truly wonderful stuff: dryly witty, frequently bawdy, usually hilarious, and almost always informed by a generous faith in the improvability of mankind. It is also remarkable how this literature anticipates many of the problems of modern literary criticism: the definitions of canons, concepts of textuality, and the problems of linguistic signification. Like Pope inviting his friend St. John Bolingbroke to shoot folly as it flies, I invite you to come explore this truly wonderful literature.
Literature as Political Weapon: John Dryden, John Locke
Various works by the Tory critic, poet and political writer, John Dryden:
“Macflecknoe” and “Absolom and Achitophel”; selections
from the Whig political philosopher, John Locke:
Second Treatise on Government
Wit versus Precept: Defining Literature
Various works of Enlightenment criticism: Dryden's
Essay of Dramatic Poesy, Pope's "Essay on Criticism,"
Johnson's "Preface to Shakespeare"
The English Theater, 1675-1775
Representative dramas including The Rover
by the Restoration adventuress and playwright, Aphra Behn;
The Rivals by the Georgian playwright, Richard Sheridan
The Augustan Satirists, Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift
Various works by Pope, including “The Rape of the Lock,” “An Essay on Man,”
and “The Epistle to Arbuthnot”; Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels
The Great Mandarin: Samuel Johnson
James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson, Rasselas
The English Novel
Frances Burney, Evelina
Spring, 2013; Mondays, 4-7
Erdrich in wave of recent ethnic women writers who balance wide popularity with critical respectability. How? Compare / contrast to popular & critically praised African American and Mexican American women writers (e. g. Maya Angelou, Sandra Cisneros, maybe Toni Morrison)
collections of stories > novels? What upsides or problems?
religious symbols: eggs, firebird, fish, Good Friday
Questions for discussion / lecture:
Definitions of "trickster?"
upsides-downsides of mythological criticism
Love Medicine: Gerry Nanapush as trickster? How? What pleasures and profundities?
Application to minority literature:
outsider, excluded parties or styles
participation threatens, overturns hierarchies
Examples from our course?
Guitar in Song of Solomon
Sandy in Narrative of Life of Frederick Douglass
Vitamin Kid and Horse in Bless Me, Ultima
Amerind origin stories handout
Amerind origin stories handout
syncretism in Black Elk Speaks or Love Medicine
Black Elk Speaks--Ghost Dance and Messiah movement show bridging between Native American practice and Christian millenialism
opening chapter: eggs as fertility
7 walking over snow like water
water imagery: baptism/cleansing or wandering? cf fish as Christ and fertility symbol
23 car and June > 35 Firebird
43 dark fish must rise
146 scar aches on Good Friday
Syncretism in Virgin of Guadalupe? Bless Me, Ultima?
Trickster in Love Medicine
194-5 Gerry Nanapush, Chippewa / Ojibwe
195-6 Dot as twin trickster?
199 Gerry in pen for breaking otu
200 eellike properties > vanished
201 prison: lessons from professionals
203 child as 9-months prisoner > break
205 cat-quick, mass
specific application to American Indian literature or culture?
To register the minority dilemma of assimilation or resistance—i. e., do you fight or join the culture that oppressed you? What balance do minorities strike between economic benefits and personal or cultural sacrifices?
4a. To identify the "new American" who crosses, combines, or confuses ethnic or gender identities (e. g., Tiger Woods, Halle Berry, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, K. D. Lang, Dennis Rodman, RuPaul, David Bowie)
American Indian as elusive, ephemeral identity: ghost dancers, off the grid, absorptive or acculturating at will
Contrast to static "Vanishing Indian" frozen in past
Black Elk is not simply a wise old medicine man, nor a Catholic convert
Everyone "likes" American Indians, but it's likely just a fantasy image that meets personal needs